Black Groups Reject Tobacco Money

Several black groups in California have signed a pledge not to accept any money or sponsorship from tobacco companies, noting that tobacco products are the leading killer of African Americans, the San Francisco Chronicle reported May 24.

Local chapters of 100 Black Men, Bay Area Black Nurses, and the San Francisco Black Firefighters Association signed the pledge as part of a coalition organized by the San Francisco African American Tobacco Free Project.

Since the 1960s, tobacco companies have made contributions to groups like the United Negro College Fund and the National Urban League. But an estimated 45,000 African Americans die each year from smoking-related diseases.

“This is just to show the hypocrisy of taking money from someone who is killing you,” said project spokeswoman Carol McGruder. “Our colleges take it. Marlboro even gives out baby clothes to babies in Africa.”

Tobacco companies reject the assertion that they are promoting smoking in the black community by funding these programs. “Whatever donations we make or contributions we do is in light of the fact that we have consumers in those communities,” said Brown & Williamson spokesman Mark Smith. “We sponsor a number of national organizations. When we give to the National Kidney Foundation of Kentucky, does that mean we cater to them? Their argument is not well-founded.”

The coalition hopes that other local and national professional groups decline tobacco dollars, as well.